Current Investment Regime of the Lao PDR

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1 LAOS: Land of Ample Opportunities and Successes Current Investment Regime of the Lao PDR By Phonethavong SINGHALATH Director of Investment Promotion Division Investment Promotion Department (IPD) Ministry of Planning and Investment(MPI) March 2012, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

2 Outline of Presentation 1. Country Snapshot 2. Policy Framework 3. Why Invest in Lao PDR 4. Sector Opportunities 5. New features of Investment Law

3 I. Country Snapshot Land Area : 236,800 sq. km Population : 6.9Millions (2008) Population Density: 25 people/sq km Population Growth: 2.3 % Labor Force: 2.9 Millions Religion: Buddhism

4 I. Country Snapshot (Cont) Lao PDR: Strategic Location Laos is at the centre of the GMS, consisting of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan province of China. 1. It is the only country bordering all the other countries in the subregion. 2. More than 70% of international trade in Laos - except air freight - is crossborder trade 3. 50% of the Lao population lives in

5 II. Policy Framework Good Policy Framework A fast growing economy with sustained annual GDP growth over 6% in past two decades National policy identifies quality investments to drive sustainable development and a diversified economy: The National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) : targets at least 8% annual GDP growth, 60% of which will be from private investments The NSEDP also focuses on the quality of growth, particularly on sustainable land and resource use, environmental management and increasing resource use efficiency Manufacturing, services, tourism and construction sectors are expanding fast Strong policy framework creates an enabling environment for private investments: recently revised Decree on Investment Promotion 2011

6 II. Policy Framework (Cont) One Stop Service Unit To fasten and facilitate investment procedures. The Government is creating a favorable business environment that is responsive to private sector needs. One Stop Service brings together representatives from all key ministries to facilitate investment applications and business start-ups Vientiane Times Oct 11, 2011

7 III. Why Invest in Lao PDR Comparative & Competitive Advantages - Political stability - High safety - Low risk from natural disasters - Low labour cost Country of rich natural resources: Fertile land, Minerals, Water, and forest, giving development potential in agriculture, mining, and hydropower.

8 III. Why Invest in Lao PDR (Cont) Market Access Access to ASEAN market with more than 500 million inhabitants including southern part of neighboring China Connects Vietnam and Thailand through the East-West Corridor with Special Economic Zone in Savannakhet acting as a trade and service center Unilateral Trade agreements with 39 countries including countries in EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, India, China and South Korea. Bilateral investment treaties with more than 25 countries from Europe to Asia Easy regional access with regular direct flights to the major hubs of Bangkok, Hanoi, Kunming, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

9 III. Why Invest in Lao PDR (Cont) Special Economic Zones Government strongly encourage investors to develop: - Special economic zone - Export Processing zone - Industrial Park - Tourism zone - Duty free zone - ICT Zone, and - Others zone Existing Zones in Lao PDR (9 Zones) 1. Savan-SENO Economic Special Zone 2. Boten Dan Kham Economic Special Zone 3. Dokyil Kham Economic Special Zone 4. Etc., 9

10 III. Why Invest in Lao PDR (Cont) Other Incentives Exemption from import duties and taxes on raw materials and capital equipments using for production Exemption from export duty on export products; Tax holidays offered up to 10 years Additional tax holidays, reduced tax rates for large projects with special concession are available upon negotiation Special treatment for healthcare and education service.

11 Top ten FDI by Countries No Country Projects Value of Investment 1 Vietnam 438 4,854,805,514 2 Thailand 750 4,027,135,894 3 China 807 3,592,470,043 4 Korea ,928,170 5 France ,319,743 6 Malaysia ,958,773 7 Japan ,937,461 8 Norway 6 358,265,000 9 India ,604, Australia ,078,812 Note: Approved Value (US$)

12 IV. Sectors Opportunities Lao PDR provided high potential for various sectors: 1. Agricultural (Agro Processing) 2. Education 3. Health 4. Tourism 5. Industry: Manufacturing & Processing 6. Electricity Generation 7. Mining Sector

13 IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) Agriculture Forestry Highest ratio of forest area Suitable land for various tree Plantation Large stands of tropical hardwoods including teak and rosewood Plenty of productive land The government is now promoting the contract farming instead of granting concession over large area of land for agriculture and tree plantation

14 IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) Tourism Sector 1.Eco-Tourism 2.Cultural Tourism 3.Agro-Tourism Tourism Business is now opened to FDI with Foreign Equity of up to 70% Several natural tourist sites are welcoming FDI

15 Thousands Millions IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) 1. Golden Award to Laungprabang by Wanderlust Travel Magazine in UK for 2006, 2007 and 2008; 2. No; 1 of the 53 Places to go in 2008 by the New York Times; 3. ASEAN Green Hotel Awards for 10 hotels in Laos; 4. Successfully hosting the SEA GAMES 25 th Big event: the celebration of 450 th Anniversary of Vientiane Capital in 15 th -21 st November Lao Tourism Year 2012 Number of Tourists Revenues * *

16 IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) Manufacturing Sector Lao PDR ready to be Manufacturing Base Logistic advantages from EWEC (Linked to the Sea) Low utilities and labor cost Special Economic Zone (Located along EWEC) Export Import tax exemption SEZA in Savannakhet

17 IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) Procession Industry Plenty of natural resource - Tin - Coal - Wood Promoted by the Government - Tax incentive - Import Export tax exemption - Strategic location (Along the EWEC, makes Logistic easier)

18 IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) Electricity Generation: Abundant water resources produced by tributaries of Mekong river Estimated electricity generation potential: over 23,000 MW Investment in hydro-electric facilities will be substantial

19 IV. Sectors Opportunities (Cont) Mining Sector: Mining industry is under developed Mining sector presents numerous potential opportunities for investment and development Mineral deposits : tin, lead, zinc, iron ore, copper, gold, gypsum, lignite, sapphires, Concessions granted to foreign investors

20 V. Open Door Policies New Economic Mechanism: From 1986, Lao PDR shifted from planned economy to a market oriented economy Privatization of state enterprises Open for FDI: - FDI Law FDI Law (1 st revised) FDI Law (2 nd revised) FDI Law (3 rd revised) 2009

21 V. Open Door Policies (Cont) New Features of Investment Law: Combined the domestic investment law and foreign direct investment law into one to create a level playing field for both domestic and foreign investors; Shorten procedures to open new businesses; No terms of investment for promoted activities; Extended Investment incentives: Education and Health care sectors are top priorities; Foreigners can have access to local financial sources; Foreign Invested Companies can own a piece of land for building their residences (Certain conditions to be applied); Foreigners can invest in the real estate sector; Promotion of the development of SEZ and Industrial Park.

22 V. Open Door Policies (Cont) Terms of Investment: No terms of investment of general business activities (Article 20) Terms of the concession projects is up to 99 years (Article 28) Access to Credits: Both foreign and domestic investors can access to credits at commercial banks and financial institutions in Lao PDR and abroad (Article 53) Real Estate Investment: Foreign investors can invest in real estate sector through leasing land from Government or private sector (Article 58) and can buy/sale that real estate.

23 IV. Open Door Policies (Cont) Rights of land used for residential purpose: Investor will be granted rights on purchasing rights of land use for their residential purpose (Article 58), if the following conditions are satisfied: - Import of registered capital (in cash) at lease US$ 500, Must be government owned Land and designated by the government. - Certificate on location of investment which is issued by local authority. - Provide land use rights not than 800 m2 to build facilities for residential or business purpose. - The government will allocate land to investors for duration consistent with the investment duration.

24 Procedure of getting the license Ministry/Department of Industry and Commerce General Business Activities (Negative List) Ministry/Department of Planning and Investment Concesssion Business Activities & Representative Office Ministry/Department of Planning and Investment (Secretariat at PMO) Investment in Specific Economic Zone Enterprise Registration License Concession License & Representative Office License Enterprise Registration License

25 Approval procedures for investment in general activities Investor proposes to register Ministry/Department of Industry and Commerce Business not fall into controlled list Business that fall into controlled list Issue enterprise registration certificate within 10 working days Request for comments from Ministry/Department concerned within 10 working days Issue enterprise registration certificate within 5 working days

26 Approval Procedures for Concession Investment Investor submit investment application IPD receive the application for appraisal and technical approval of the investment Provide guidance to investor for preparing necessary documents Committee for Promotion & Management of Investment (CPMI) Meeting Propose to Government or provincial authorities for approval considering signing the agreement Signing the agreement, issue the concession certificate

27 Investment Promotion Zoning Investment promotion zoning -Zone I -Zone II -Zone III Zone 1: Mountainous, plateau zones with no economic infrastructure. Zone II: Mountainous, plateau zones with a moderate level of economic infrastructure. Zone III: Mountainous, plateau zones with good economic infrastructure.

28 Incentive on Cooperate Profit tax Promoted Sectors Zone Level Period of exempt (years) Industry Agriculture Service

29 Granting additional incentives Education & Healthcare sectors Exempt land lease or land concession Zone 1 = 15 years Zone 2 = 10 years Zone 3 = 3 years Provide additional 5 years for cooperate profit tax exempt

30 Contact Address: Investment Promotion Department Ministry of Planning and Investment Souphanouvong Avenue, Vientiane 01001, Lao PDR Tel: (856-21) Fax: (856-21) Website:

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